04 SES 02 B, Learning Environments
This paper explores classroom learning environment and pedagogical structures addressing the question: How can we create a learning environment that all students can profit from? We draw on an ongoing empirical research study ‘Unequal chances – no thanks’ from 5 different schools, with different academic level in the 8th largest town in Denmark. The overall focus in the research is on the student’s experience and their situated practice in the structures of the classrooms learning environment. Based on the view that learning is fundamentally tied to the social and the cultural context and not just to be seen as a cognitive process, and understanding that knowledge is situated within the practices of the community of practice (Laver and Wenger 1991). The focus in the article is on the process of learning, such as participation in activities where there is room for ‘learning by doing’ or learning by actively combining the known with the unknown and learning from peers.
The theoretical perspective is phenomenological, and the theoretical concepts represent different levels in relation to school practice - the sociological and anthropological social society level, group and relational levels, and the individual subject level. At the social societal level, Bourdieus theory formed the basis for an understanding of school as a social construction and a social and cultural field (Bourdieu 1991). The underlying assumption is that the root causes of poor educational outcomes are located in the economic, political and ideological structures in society, and these structures are reproduced at the local school level. In this paper the focus will be on the school level, exploring the successful schools, looking for structures in the classroom content and pedagogy such as: the curriculum; the teacher’s instruction; the student’s participation level; and relations and communication in the classrooms. Bernstein’s theory is used to describe and analyze the characteristics of the power and control structures in schools, with practical concepts of classification and framing. Lave and Wenger’s concept of participation is used as an underlying perception of how learning is situated in classrooms. Similarly Bourdieus concept of embodied knowledge and taste, defined as habitus (Bourdieu 1997), is a underlying perception.
Bernstein, B. (1977b): “Class and Pedagogies: Visible and Invisible”, in Karabel, J and Halsey A.H. (1977): Power and Ideology in Education. New York Oxford University Press (p 511-534) Bernstein, B. (2000): Pedagogy, Symbolic Control and Identity. Rowman & Littlefield publishers, inc. Boston. Bourdeau, P. (1977): “Cultural Reproduction and Social Reproduction” in Karabel, J and Halsey A.H. (1977): Power and Ideology in Education. New York Oxford University Press (p 487-511) Bourdieu, P. (1991): Language and symbolic power. Polity Press. Cambridge. Bourdieu, P. (1994/1998): Practical Reasons: On the Theory of Action. Cambridge: Polity Press. Bourdeau, P and J. Passeron (1997/2000): Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture. Second edition. Sage Publications. London. Davis, B. (1995): “Bernstein on Classrooms”, in Atkinson, P, B. Davis, S. Delamont (1995): Discourse and reproduction. Essays in Honor of Basil Bernstein. New Jersey, Hampton Press Lave J. and E. Wenger (1991): Situated Learning. Legitimate peripheral participation, Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press. Murphy, P. (ed.) (1999) Learners, Learning and Assessment, London: Paul Chapman. Nasir, N.S. and J. Cook (2009): “Becoming a Hurdler: How Learning Settings Afford Identities” In, Anthropology & Education Quarterly, Vol. 40 Issue 1, p 41-61, 2009 American Anthropological Assosiation. Sadovnik, A. R. (2001): ”Basil Bernstein (1924–2000)”, in Prospects: the quarterly review of comparative education, vol. XXXI, no. 4, December 2001, p. 687-703. UNESCO: International Bureau of Education, 2001 www.ibe.unesco.org/publications/ThinkersPdf/bernsteine.pdf Singh, P.; Sadovnik, A. R.; Semel, S. (ed) (2009): Toolkits, Translation devices and conceptual account. Essays on Basil Bernstein’s sociology of knowledge. Peter Lang, New York. History and Schools and schooling vol. 51 Wenger, E. (1999) Communities of Practice. Learning, meaning and identity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ziehe, T. (2007): Ny Ungdom og usædvanlige læreprocesser. Second edition. Denmark
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